Message from the Director

Welcome to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Graduate Program in Public Health!

This year we have another amazing new group of students joining our program. They are the largest incoming class since Mount Sinai established the Public Health Program in 2005. The incoming students represent diverse backgrounds, strengths and interests and will continue to enhance the dynamic atmosphere that is the hallmark of our Program. I warmly welcome our new students and look forward to getting to know them over the coming years!

Our Program has gone through some exciting new developments over the last year. Since joining the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), the national organization of CEPH-accredited schools and programs as a founding member last summer, our program has grown both in quality and quantity. We have expanded our curriculum and course offerings, and recruited new outstanding faculty. We have firmly established our eight tracks rounding out what is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary set of specializations in public health education. Our tracks include general public health, epidemiology, biostatistics, occupational & environmental medicine, outcomes research, health promotion & disease prevention, health care management, and global health. We are offering a dual MD-MPH, MPH-MSW (with the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service) and DPM-MPH (with New York College of Podiatric Medicine) degrees, and an Advanced Certificate Program in Public Health. This academic year we will be offering new courses on public health advocacy, public health law, chronic disease epidemiology, public health informatics, SAS programing, and various thesis/capstone seminars for the different tracks. And last but not least thanks to our dedicated staff and students we now have our own biannual newsletter The Scoop – check it out!

I want to encourage all students to reach out to their track advisors and course directors early on to seek advice and mentorship. Meet with our outstanding and engaged faculty, staff and co-students at ISMMS and become involved in public health research, advocacy and practice.

A few years ago I worked as a public health manager in Sierra Leone. I helped set up an epidemiological surveillance system, supervised a malaria resistance study, and trained underpaid and therefore unmotivated health workers. Contact with patients was not the priority; I was supposed to care for the national health policy and not for specific patients. Like all policies, national health policies are influenced by societal needs, economic capacities and, sometimes nationalistic sentiments. They do not aim to bring rapid relief to a suffering individual, but set conditions for a given society to become “healthier”. Their slow evolution and implementation can often be tiring and frustrating. We all know of countless examples, from the Affordable Care Act here in the US, to achieving the Millennium Development Goals globally. My vision for everyone in the Graduate Program in Public health at ISMMS is that, as public health practitioners, we will always remember that for a human being in distress it is the here and now. Improving the health of human beings is the essence of public health. Keeping the individual at the center of all our work also means that we can approach overwhelming or unimaginable problems without despair. By focusing on the suffering human being, public health goes beyond mere analysis and implementation of health policies. It offers choices where there were none; it provides a human touch in an inhumane environment; and it may ultimately help reestablish human dignity. I welcome everyone at our program to make this a reality.

 

Nils Hennig, MD, PhD, MPH
Director, Graduate Program in Public Health
Associate Director, Global Health Center
Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine & Department of Pediatrics
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai